Stage 4: Decatur, GA – Oxford, MS

After getting our nagging roof rack problems worked out with the help of the friendly staff at REI, India and I set off on the first leg of our journey, directly west from Atlanta to Oxford, Mississippi. We gassed up before we even hit the highway, stopped for lunch a few miles from the border, and gunned it on I-20 all the way through Alabama without a stop. I still poke fun at my sister for being born in Alabama (though I should probably point the finger at my parents) and I don’t much care for the state in general. There are nice parts, but we had places to be, people to see. We traded driving duties just after the Mississippi border, and cruised through Tupelo, birthplace of the King of Rock-n-Roll on the way to the home of the creator for Yoknapatawpha county, William Faulker.

After about seven hours in the car we pulled up in front of The Ranch, new abode of gentlemen criminals Andrew Houston and Ben Buckner, just off North Lamar St. in old Oxford town. We settled in, took the tour of the premises, met Warehouse, their super-cute kitten, and enjoyed a cold High Life at the end of a long hot drive.

As Andrew saw it, we had two options for the afternoon. We could pack a picnic and take it to the grassy tree-shade of Faulker’s memorialized estate at Rowan Oak, or we could load up the cooler and head for the deep blue waters of the pool at the Old Town Hotel. As India and I had both been to Rowan Oak and were still heated up from the sunny car ride, we decided to make for the pool.

We passed by Faulker’s grave on the way to pay tribute, and left India at the pool to guard the cooler and look like she belonged while Andrew and I shuffled across the street for beers and ice. Oddly enough, beer is not sold out of a cooler or refrigerator in Oxford (perhaps all of Mississippi) so we chose a nice, warm 12-pack of Miller High Life and a big bag of ice, and tossed those babies in the cooler to chill while the three of us enjoyed the aquatic lifestyle in the pool. We enjoyed our icy beverages, floated on the complimentary pool toys, and shot the late afternoon breeze and watched the clouds whisp along the sky.
The sun began to set before long and we started to get a rumbling in our collective belly. When a middle-aged, overweight woman showed up to do her water aerobics routine we knew it was time to go. Still moist from the pool, we carried our cooler into the downtown square of Oxford town and descended on Ajax, home of some fine Southern cooking. Andrew and India enjoyed the country-fried steak plate, while I was fixated on The Big Easy, a country fried steak sandwich topped with mashed potatoes, gravy and butterbeans. I’ve never had a sandwich anything like it. The whole thing was about 8 inches across and came with a heaping side of homefries. I ate it all, washed it down with a cold Coca-Cola and felt like a champion. The full belly food coma started to come over us, so we headed back to The Ranch to kick back and peruse some pictures from the wedding, honeymoon and some good days back in Athens. India dozed on the couch with Warehouse, and we introduced the kitten to Brownie.
She was a little nervous about having another four-legged animal in the house, but they soon came to an understanding and were able to coexist peacefully for the remainder of our stay. Soon it was bedtime, and we all turned in to the sound of the Mississippi cicadas and the hum of the window unit AC. Off to Jackson tomorrow for a lunch date with Sam Lane, Russell Hall pot-luck roommate and one hell of a reader of poetry, and his family in Jackson, MS. From there it’s on to that down-south den of infamy, New Orleans, home of Aaron Burns and about ten billion crazy night owl partiers.

1 comment:

  1. Man.. butter beans are the best. I'm pretty jealous of your journey. I'd say wish you guys were here, but I wish I was there more.


    ps. I hope you showed Andrew the photo of him with the ladies on each arm. I meant to send him a copy, but don't have his email.